Skip to main content

Google finally simplifies seeing who's online in hangouts for gmail

The point of any chat system is to make it easier to communicate with others. This is something that Google Hangouts has singularly failed at, for one reason.

Rather than making it obvious which of your contacts are online, it has - up until now - displayed a chronological list of the conversations you have held with people. This is about to change. Rolling out over the next few days, is an update which will see your online contact move to the top of your chat buddy list.

This might seem like a small change, but it's one that has been requested for some time now. Google seemingly thought that the tried and test way of ordering contacts was due for a shakeup - now we know that the experiment didn’t really pay off.

Read more: How to install and use the Google Hangouts plugin for Microsoft Outlook

There's another new feature to play with as well. Just as Chrome - and other browsers - make it possible to pin frequently used tabs so they are always available, so Hangouts users will be given the opportunity to pin contacts to the top of their buddy list.

Announced late yesterday, the update has already caused quite some excitement, with the Google+ post (but of course!) used to publicise the feature already receiving hundreds of thumbs ups.

If you've yet to enable Hangouts in your Gmail account, just select "Try the new Hangouts" under chat settings to get started. If you decide you don’t like it, you can use the "Revert to old chat" link to go back to your preferred style.